illustration of author Mitch Albom sitting next to Morrie Schwartz, who is lying in a bed

Tuesdays With Morrie

by Mitch Albom

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According to Morrie, what should be taught in the classroom of life?

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According to Morrie, we should be teaching people how to understand the true meaning of life. He maintains that most people are unhappy because they let the prevailing culture dictate their values.

But the big things—how we think, what we value—those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone—or any society determine those for you.

Since much of modern society is focused on material ambitions and desires, people often neglect to nurture intimate relationships with their families and friends. Morrie asserts that many of us take too much for granted. We fail to see that, to live well, we must accept the imminence of death. Morrie tells Mitch that "death is as natural as life. It's part of the deal we made." Once we know that, we can begin to appreciate what life really is. It is about knowing how to give and to receive love. It is about looking "at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become" on behalf of those we love.

“Remember what I said about finding a meaningful life? I wrote it down, but now I can recite it: Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. You notice,” he added, grinning, “there’s nothing in there about a salary.”

Morrie believes that the current culture is teaching people the wrong things. In his discussions with Mitch about life, Morrie quotes from "Erich Fromm, Martin Buber, Erik Erikson." He tells Mitch that life is all about the "tension of opposites." Basically, this means that we are always struggling against opposing desires.

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle."

When Mitch asks how such a tug-of-war can be won, Morrie answers that such a war can only be won when love wins. In teaching Mitch about the crisis of personal identity and the conflict of the divided self, Morrie asserts that all of us must decide to let love guide our life if we want to find contentment and satisfaction in living. Additionally, once we have learned how to live, we will know how to die in dignity. This is what Morrie maintains that we should be teaching in the classroom called "life."

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In Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays With Morrie," he included several quotations by Morrie Schwartz that are very indicative of his philosophy on the "classroom of life." 

"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. " and "Learn how to live and you'll know how to die; learn how to die and you'll learn how to live."

Morrie believed very strongly that unless we learn to care about each other and treat each other equally our society is doomed.  As Morrie tells Mitch in the book when they are discussing the OJ Simpson case, "we are all born and we all die that makes us the same."

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